Conflict in South China Sea

Tensions over disputed maritime territory in South China Sea continue to rise between China and the Philipinnes.

Insight – Conflict looms in South China Sea oil rush

By Randy Fabi and Manuel Mogato

(Reuters) – When Lieutenant-General Juancho Sabban received an urgent phone call from an oil company saying two Chinese vessels were threatening to ram their survey ship, the Philippine commander’s message was clear: don’t move, we will come to the rescue.

Within hours, a Philippine surveillance plane, patrol ships and light attack aircraft arrived in the disputed area of Reed Bank in the South China Sea. By then the Chinese boats had left after chasing away the survey ship, Veritas Voyager, hired by U.K.-based Forum Energy Plc.

But the tension had become so great Forum Energy chief Ray Apostol wanted to halt two months of work in the area.

“They were so close to finishing their work. I told them to stay and finish the job,” Sabban, who heads the Western Command of the Philippine Armed Forces, told Reuters at his headquarters in Puerto Princesa on Palawan island.

Over the next few days, President Benigno Aquino would call an emergency cabinet meeting, file a formal protest with China, and send his defence secretary and armed forces chief to the Western Command in a show of strength.

The March 2011 incident is considered a…..[access full article]
Image: Reuters/Rolex Dela Pena/Pool IMAGES

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